Takeaways:

  • The Companion mobile app helps users stay safe by designating a “companion” who digitally accompanies them in potentially dangerous situations.
  • The app joins a host of others designed to keep real estate agents safe.
  • Other real estate safety efforts are gaining traction as well.

A new mobile app allows users to designate a digital “companion” who can monitor their activity while in a potentially dangerous situation — such as walking home alone late at night or showing a home to an unknown buyer.

Five college students designed Companion to help their cohorts stay safe, but its streamlined interface and integral human component makes it another compelling real estate safety offering. It comes in iOS and Android versions and has registered tens of thousands downloads.

Here’s how it works:

  • Users open the app and plug in their destination.
  • They select a “companion” from their phone’s contact list. Users can add more than one contact, who receive a text message when they’ve been selected; companions don’t need to download the app.
  • Companions can track users’ routes through an interactive map.
  • During their trip, users can tap their phone’s screen to share whether they feel nervous or call 911 immediately.
  • If they veer off course, fall, receive a shake or have their headphones yanked out of their phone, the app will prompt users to press a button within 15 seconds to confirm they’re ok, according to a recent Business Insider profile of the app. If it’s not pressed in that time, the app sounds an audible alarm to scare criminals, gives users the option to call 911 and alerts their companions.

Companion

Companion allows contacts to monitor a person’s location and safety in real time.

Real estate safety apps have proliferated this year in the wake of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter’s kidnapping and killing last fall. Carter met an unknown buyer alone at a deserted property; her body was found in a shallow grave a few days later.

Safety app (or app featuring safety features) Description
AgentPair AgentPair, an app designed to connect buyers with agents, includes an alert mechanism to inform team members of when agents arrive and leave a client meeting.
“Agent.Watch” from Kunversion “Agent.Watch” turns agents’ smartphones into security cameras. If agents press an alert button, the app sends a notification with the agent’s location, along with the video and photos captured during the agent’s showing, to specified contacts.
Curb Call The agent-buyer matchmaking app includes a safety feature that will automatically alert an agent’s personal emergency contact and their office when they leave a showing without indicating on the app that the showing has ended.
Real Agent Guard The app alerts agents’ networks when they fail to shut off a safety timer before it expires. It also includes a live video feed product that allows agents’ brokerages or teams to monitor them in an open house.
Real Safe Agent The app helps agents vet unknown clients and streamlines connection with contacts around safety.
SafeTrek SafeTrek features a panic button that can alert local authorities of emergencies.
Secure Show Secure Show helps agents determine whether the people a real estate agent plans to meet are who they say they are.
Verify Photo ID Verify Photo ID checks identities against sex offender and property databases.

Source: Inman

Agent safety is spreading beyond new apps, however.

Realtors Safe Harbor, a national database of real estate brokerage, title and lender offices who agree to open their doors for agents to vet clients, is gaining traction. Eight state associations have signed up to promote the effort to their members.

Local associations — such as the Des Moines (Iowa) Association of Realtors — are beefing up their safety protocols as well.

Email Paul Hagey.

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